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Documentary — Henri Cartier-Bresson et le Nord

February 17, 2013 — Published by

This is not only for our French friends. Yes, this documentary on Henri Cartier-Bresson is in French. It’s as visually remarkable as surprising in many aspects. The documentary dates back to 1976, four years after HCB gave up photography. But he was willing to once again pick up his Leica (actually two Leicas each with a 50mm) and travel through Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a part of northern France that at this time was in crisis; shooting his last grand reportage.

Henri Cartier-Bresson around the time of his last assignment before he really and finally gave up photography in 1976.

Henri Cartier-Bresson around the time of his last assignment before he really and finally gave up photography in 1976.

As said, language unfortunately is French, but the images are speak in part for themselves. The long five-part documentary presents a French man who at that time was the guide of HCB while he came to northern France.

Based on the images the master took with his Leica — a camera “as light as silent” — the guide tries to remember where he accompanied HCB decades ago, and embarks on finding the faces and places they met 36 years ago while he’s trying to unravel the famous “decisive moment” that demands as much intuition as mastery.

“Le Nord dans l’œil d’Henri Cartier-Bresson” was actually the last significant reportage of HCB. The guide convinced him to go back to field work for this last documentary and they took the road together. They drove 12,000 kilometers in an old red Opel. HCB took around 6,000 pictures during the 35-day trip. He kept only 57 that he selected and then they made a book with them.

Here is part one of the documentary by France 3. Click the respective links for parts two, three, four and five.

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